5 Tips For Cooking Corned Beef.

Last week a woman emailed us and asked for instructions on how to cook corned beef in her pressure cooker. She specifically asked about where to set the jiggler, and how much time it would take.

We were all stymied by that question because we come from the restaurant/deli end of the cooking operation, where no one had ever used a pressure cooker. We didn’t even have a clue what a jiggler was.

In fact, if you ask Sy Ginsberg how to cook corned beef, he will generally answer “until it’s done”. While that sounds a bit snarky, the truth is that it is very hard to give generalized instructions for cooking corned beef. Corned beef, although a processed item, is still fresh meat. That means that proper cooking depends in large part on the size and cut of the meat. A whole corned beef brisket that weighs 10 pounds is just not going to cook for the same time and in the same way as a 3 pound piece of first-cut (the thinner, smaller “point” of a whole brisket).

But with St. Patrick’s Day looming and people anxious to make a special corned beef dinner, here are 5 tips we can offer.

WATER

Corned beef should always be cooked in water. Whether you use a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or a pot on top of a stove, you need to have a container large enough for the corned beef to fit in. Then you must cover the meat entirely with water, but only enough water to just cover the meat. If you are cooking on the stove top, you will probably need a stock pot.

COOK THE PIECE WHOLE

Don’t try to cheat by slicing the meat if your pot isn’t large enough. Cutting a whole brisket in half to fit inside of a pot is acceptable, but that’s about the only pre-cooking cut that’s safe. Otherwise your beef will fall apart into a shredded mess. The picture at the top of our blog is a corned beef brisket, sliced after cooking whole.

LOW OR SLOW

If you are using a slow cooker, only cook on low. We can’t tell you how long, because it depends on the size of the meat and every slow cooker is different. Plan on 8-10 hours. If you are boiling on the stove top, once your water has reached boiling, turn it down and keep on a s-l-o-w boil or simmer the entire time. It will likely take several hours.

SKIP THE VEGGIES

Hey, we love a boiled dinner, too (corned beef, cabbage, potato, carrots), but we aren’t a big fan of cooking the vegetables in the same pot and at the same time as the meat. It varies the cook time of the meat too much, and they take up precious water resources in the pot. If you like the taste that the cooking meat imparts on the vegetables, cook the corned beef first and then use the cooking water to cook the vegetables.

FORK TENDER

When Sy says “cook until it’s done”, he means that the thickest part of the meat should be easily pierced with a fork, and the fork removed without lifting the meat. So besides a large pot, you need to have a meat fork with long tines to pierce through a thick piece of beef.

The USDA recommends that corned beef be cooked to an internal temperature of 158 degrees as a safeguard against pathogens, but we recommend a higher internal temp – 165-175 degrees.

By the way, we answered the question about the pressure cooker by pointing her toward this blog. It features a picture of our competitor’s product, but it made our customer happy. :)

11 thoughts on “5 Tips For Cooking Corned Beef.

  1. I once tried pressure cooking CB once following cookbook directions. It shrank into a tight little ball and never re-absorbed the juices. There’s no decent way to cook CB other than how you’ve described.
    The ‘jiggler’ is the weight valve on an older pressure cooker, often with ‘settings’ for 5, 10 and 15 lb. pressure.

  2. I have found that CB in the pressure cooker is brilliant. First rinse the CB then I cover the CB with water, add 1 onion studded with 6 cloves, 1tbsp of both yellow mustard seeds & coriander seeds, 2 tbsp malt vinegar & brown sugar, 8 black peppercorns, 2 tspn golden syrup & 1 carrot chopped into large chunks.
    Bring PC to high pressure 15lb, cook for 20 mins per 500g (1lb) & release pressure naturally after cooking.
    If you wish strain the cooking liquid & cook the veg while the meat is standing (covered by foil) otherwise cook your veg as you wish. Serve with mustard or white sauce…or like me have both lol. Hope this is some help.

  3. This year, I experimented and tried cooking the corned beef in coffee. It was -amazing-. I started with a pre-seasoned corned beef, put the meat and marinade juices in a bowl and added a pot of strong, good coffee, then let it sit covered in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, I transferred the meat and coffee to a stock pot and simmered it until it was done. I know it sounds weird, but it was incredibly good.

  4. My mother-in law taught me to slow roast it in the oven, I put it in cover roaster with about 3″ of water, store bought use the spice pack, sprinkle on top. Cook at 325 degrees for about 2-3 hours or more, till fork tender. About an hour before it’s done I add potatoes, carrots & onions, very flavorful :)

  5. Came here to see at what temp our CB would be done and, snap, we wish we had read this first! We cooked it in the crock pot and knowing they generally take many hours, we cooked it on high. We just tested it and it is at 205 and is a “tight, tough, shriveled piece of meat! Hubs said he would leave it in the crock pot and let it cook for a few more hours thinking it would naturally tenderize but I suggested we take it out, cover in foil to rest, slice it thin, and cross our fingers. It’s too late for us to do it correctly this time but we thought we should ask in hopes you can advise any others who make our mistake. Many thanks.

  6. Earlier today I read a blog in which the blogger recommended cooking corned beef in foil in an oven. She wrote that it’s important to desalt the corned beef before putting it in the oven. The desalting is done by letting the corned beef come to a boil, then discarding the water, then repeat that once. Many, many people commented. All but one person wrote that they much prefer the oven-cooked corned beef over the boiled corned beef.

    • We would never recommend that anyone de-salt OUR corned beef, as it is generally not as salty as some others and you risk a lot of flavor loss. Not all corned beef is the same, so as we have mentioned in other contexts, it is hard to create hard and fast rules. For example, some corned beef has a much larger pump percentage than others – even we manufacture different pump percentages for different customers. A higher pumped corned beef would do better in the oven than a lower. It comes down to whatever works for you and the piece of meat you start with! Thanks so much for commenting.

  7. This is how I was taught to cook it as well. Although, Kerry raised some intersting ideas!

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